China may struggle to meet 2020 energy consumption cap: state planner

FILE PHOTO: A worker shovels coal at a freight yard in Hefei, Anhui province, January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China may struggle to achieve its target of reducing energy use by 2020 as a strong economy increases energy consumption, the state planner said on Monday.

The world’s biggest energy consumer aims to cap its total primary energy use at 5 billion tonnes of standard coal equivalent by 2020. It also vowed to reduce energy consumption used to generate every unit of gross domestic product by 15 percent by 2020 from 2015 levels.

While China has met its target last year and is expected to achieve its 2017 goal, “growth of total primary energy consumption may continue to rise as the economic situation in the country will get better,” the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement.

Some regions in the country would also find it difficult to fulfill their goals, the NDRC said, because they have launched a number of high energy-consuming projects in a bid to keep economic growth stable.

China has lowered energy consumption per unit of GDP by 3.8 percent over the first three quarters of 2017, and total energy use rose 2.8 percent from a year ago.

“In the next step, the NDRC will strengthen guidance and checks to local authorities and launch key energy-saving projects in a bid to meet the targets,” the agency said.

Last year, China consumed 4.36 billion tonnes of coal equivalent and cut energy use per unit of GDP by 5 percent.

Among 31 provinces across the country, only the northeastern province of Liaoning failed to meet its target of reducing energy consumption last year, according to NDRC data.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Aizhu Chen; Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.